Longtime resident of San Mateo, Helen Sachi Masaoka passed away in Los Angeles on April 6 at age 90. She was the seventh of nine children both to Momotaro and Takeno Kawahara of Kawahara Nursery. Sachi was 14 years old when she and her family were incarcerated during World War II at Tanforan and then at Topaz. After the war she went to Cal Berkeley with a Poly Sci major while she worked as a “schoolgirl,” living with a family and taking care of their children and household in exchange for room and board. A member of the debating club, she met Tad Masaoka with whom she shared 49 happy years. As she often said, Tad was “one in a million,” and “he made me laugh every day.”
Tad and Sachi lived several years in Maryland while Tad worked for his brother, Mike Masaoka, and JACL. They returned to California in 1963, where Tad went on to work for Fair Housing and HUD, and Sachi went back to school to obtain a teaching credential. She taught many years at George Hall Elementary where she was a beloved teacher and a valued colleague. For many years she was also an active member of Sturge Presbyterian Church.
Sachi is survived by her brother Harry Kawahara (Jane) of Altadena and Moko Hatamiya (Roy) of Yuba City, three children: Jan Masaoka (Paul Rosenstiel), Mark Masaoka (Kathy), and Miya Masaoka (George Lewis), her six grandchildren Mariko Drew, Mayumi Masaoka (Tawon Saetang), Kimi Rosenstiel, Dan Masaoka (Veronica Lam), Keiko Cresante (Tom), and Tadashi Lewis. She also has three great-grandchildren: Dylan and Ethan Cresante, and Yuma Masaoka Saetang, and dozens of nieces and nephews with whom she was always welcoming and generous in spirit. She is predeceased by her husband, her parents, two brothers who died in childhood, her siblings Shizu Kariya (Mas), Harumi Peterkin, Isami Kawahara (Jean), and Chieko Lily Higashi (Hisashi).
Sachi was famous for her deep faith in God, the strength of her marriage with Tad, her love of babies and children, her endless energy, her teriyaki chicken and her angel food cake.
Services will be held on Saturday, May 12 at 1:30 pm, at Sturge Presbyterian Church, 25 S. Humboldt St., San Mateo.